Despite racist encounters
Campaign to free Mumia won’t stop
Published May 21, 2010 7:42 PM
The recently passed racist, anti-immigrant SB 1070 Arizona state law is the
message supported by descendants of European immigrants who initially stole the
lands they now occupy, while slaughtering millions of the original Indigenous
inhabitants. At the same time, the state of Virginia honored the pro-slavery
Confederacy with fond memories of yesteryear and the “good ole
All of this harkens back from the frightening past to the present so-called
“post-racial” U.S. Whether it is Virginia or Arizona, racist
reminders are to be found everywhere, including in the once pro-Confederate
state of Maryland, as members of the Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC) were
reminded of on their trip to Washington, D.C., on April 26.
The coalition organized a delegation to go from the press conference, march and
rally to the U.S. Department of Justice to demand that U.S. Attorney General
Eric Holder begin a federal civil rights investigation into the racist
violations of Mumia’s legal and human rights. Also the delegation was to
deliver an additional 20,000 letters and postcards in support of the
investigation, plus call for a meeting with the Civil Rights Division.
On the way to D.C. the coalition experienced the misfortune of their bus
breaking down. The driver pulled into a truck weigh station parking lot on a
Maryland highway to check the brakes. He then determined it wasn’t safe
to continue the trip. He requested another bus from the company.
The coalition was detained for nearly three hours, during which time some folks
disembarked and walked around outside seeking vending machines and
One Black passenger returned from the weigh station to the bus and commented
that the staff inside had attitudes sounding like the southern
“rednecks” he encountered growing up in the South. A few others
shared their familiarity with his experiences. Later a staff person walked from
the building to the bus and was overheard telling the bus driver — in his
strong southern drawl — that the passengers could no longer use the
bathrooms, as they had “clogged both the women’s and men’s
The bus driver then announced that the facilities were “off limits”
to everyone. A state patrol car shortly appeared, parked in front of the weigh
station building and remained there until the replacement bus came and finally
departed. It should be noted that most of the passengers were African
Before the replacement bus arrived, one of the white coalition members, who had
been asleep during the announcement, left the bus and entered the weigh station
building. When she returned to the bus and was asked if they had given her a
hard time, she was surprised at the question. She stated that she went inside,
asked where the restroom was, they pointed to it, and she was allowed to use it
without incident. Both toilets were fully functioning.
Remembering the mission they were on, which was to get to D.C., along with the
presence of the patrol car, no challenge to the obviously racist denial of the
use of the restrooms seemed wise. White supremacy again reared its ugly head.
Back to the past and present.
Pressure on Holder continues
No trip to Washington, D.C., was necessary on May 14. This time, Eric Holder
came to New York City to deliver the keynote address to the 2010 Law School
graduates of Columbia University. The Coalition to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal and
other supporters were there hours beforehand with banners, signs and leaflets.
They also distributed close to 1,500 palm cards to everyone in the vicinity of
the university, including the graduates, their guests and university staff. One
palm card was delivered to Holder’s secret service agent, asking that he
give the palm card to the attorney general.
The palm cards were in color with Mumia’s photo on one side and the words
“Civil Rights Investigation NOW!,” the coalition website and phone
number. The other side of the card had a copy of the authorized photo of Eric
Holder and the words, “Attorney General Eric Holder: conduct a civil
rights investigation for the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal.”
Below Holder’s photo was a statement to the law school graduates
addressing the issue of wrongful convictions and violations of constitutional
rights in the U.S. legal system, followed by information regarding the case of
Mumia Abu-Jamal. At the bottom of the card are the words, “Join Us in
This Fight for Justice!”
The importance of continuing the struggle to save Mumia Abu-Jamal’s life
and eventually win his freedom cannot be overemphasized. He has been and
continues to be an extraordinary fighter for freedom and justice — a
voice of the voiceless. We are all Mumia!
Join the weekly call-in campaign: (202) 353-1555 to the U.S. Justice Department
every Thursday, demanding a federal civil rights investigation. And organize,
organize, organize! Free Mumia and all political prisoners!
The writer was a passenger on the bus.
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